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Subject:Re: Help on Procedure Writing From:TJ Alias <tom_the_techwriter -at- yahoo -dot- com> To:"TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Thu, 6 Dec 2001 07:55:13 -0800 (PST)
Anila, et al.:
Technical writing isn't as simple as some of the
people on the list seem to be indicating. I can't
imagine trying to condense my education and experience
into a single e-mail message. I spent almost 2 of my
4 years in college learning the specific skills that I
use as a technical communicator. But it sounds like
you aren't asking for a single set of tips and
tricks...more like a starting place. Here are a
I would first go to the web site of a college or
university that offers a degree in technical
communication (off the top of my head: U of Minn,
Mich. Tech., Texas Tech, RPI) and find their course
guides or listings for a course that claims to be
teaching what you want to know. Find the list of
required texts for the course and order them from one
of the many online sources for books. I have a book
called Procedure Writing (which was one of my college
texts), but it is now fairly obsolete, so I suggest
that you find out what they're using now.
Next, if this assignment is a one-time kind of thing,
get the job done and move on; but if this is your new
job and you will be doing it full-time, I'd seriously
consider enrolling in at least a certificate course in
technical writing (there are many out there, including
some taught online, such as at the U of Minn.), if not
a degree program. With your background, you would
probably be admitted to a Master's degree program at
most of the schools that offer it.
Finally, don't worry about the software tools--they
are secondary to what's really important, which is
what you are asking about, the core writing and
communicating. Simply owning/knowing a particular
tool is only enough skill to make you dangerous. If
you want to be effective, learn the discipline of
technical communication. You'll learn the tools on the
>>>Message to which I am Responding>>>
I am new to the field of Tech Writing. A graduate in
English literature, I have no background whatsoever in
tech writing or in any of the tools/technologies I see
mentioned in most of the messages posted here --
except for MS Word, MS Excel and to a certain extent
I am in need of information on the following topics:
Writing User Manuals
Writing Online Help
By this I mean the the language, style and format to
be used in this kind of procedure writing. My company
does not require me to work with the different help
technologies as of yet. At present I am concerned
basically with the language part of it.
Please do let me know where to go for this kind of
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